The Florida Panthers enter this season with disappointment on their backs as they were swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of last postseason. As a result, the team has had an overhaul of coaches and players. This includes replacing Andrew Brunette and trading away forward Jonathan Huberdeau to the Calgary Flames.
But one veteran player might be on his last stint with Florida. That veteran player is forward Patric Hornqvist. Despite his playoff experience, his gritty playstyle, and the leadership he brings to the locker room with him being an alternative captain, he might be finding himself out of the Panthers lineup by next offseason for a number of reasons.
Hornqvist Is Not Getting Any Younger
Hornqvist will be entering his 15th season at 35 years of age and will turn 36 before the All-Star Break on Jan. 1. As of now, he is the oldest player on the roster. And because Father Time stops for no man, he is not getting any younger.
Considering that and his history of injuries, as he hasn’t played a full season since the 2015-16 season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he, unfortunately, may be considering retirement at this point in his career.
Hornqvist Carries a Big Cap Hit That Needs to Be Moved
Hornqvist’s current contract, which he signed back in 2018 with the Penguins, is in its final year. It carries a fair bit of money at $5.3 million. In addition, it carries a modified no-trade clause (M-NTC), which requires him to submit an eight-team no-trade list.
After all the moves that general manager Bill Zito made this past offseason, Florida currently finds itself just under $3.4 million over the cap. If a trade were to be made involving Hornqvist, it could immediately get them to cap compliance while also getting somewhat of a return, even if the return is not an immediate roster player. On the other hand, however, it would not be surprising if whoever trades for him asks that the Cats retain some salary or throw in a sweetener in the form of a pick or young prospect.
Hornqvist Will Not Recieve a New Contract with the Same Cap Hit From Florida
As previously mentioned, Hornqvist is currently playing in the last year of his current deal. Because of his age and his inability to stay healthy, he more than likely will not receive an extension anywhere near the same rate he is currently making.
It is unknown if he wants a pay raise or not, but his new contract will probably come from elsewhere. This is especially true considering rumors of him being moved were swirling around since last year.
How Long Until Hornqvist is Gone?
It’s clear that Hornqvist’s days in South Florida are numbered. With Florida’s current cap situation and the team getting younger overall, the Panthers may have to find a way to cut their losses with him and get something out of his departure. For fans and the team itself, much like Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar‘s departures, it’s gonna leave a sense of emptiness and will hurt emotionally.
But in the end, this was something that was going to happen at some point. With how old he’s getting and his playing style doing him no favors, he’s one bad hit away from having to put his career to rest. However, the lessons he’s passed down to the youth and the help he’s given to the coaching staff will remain a huge piece that he’ll leave behind that will push the team to be better and stronger in the future.
My name is Joey. I’ve been writing about the NHL for about 3 years with my experience spread out between TSJ 101 Sports and Panther Parkway. I look forward to you reading my articles!